Here’s an abbreviated excerpt from The Joy of Geocaching that helps you prepare for that big excursion into the woods. We asked dozens of geocachers to recommend gear to bring on the outing besides their trusty GPSr. Here’s what they advised us,listed in order of importance from essential for your safety to merely convenient.
Cell phone—If you’re geocaching alone,don’t leave home without it. Many caches are located in remote places and you don’t want to be down with a fractured leg waiting for someone to pass by.
Whistle or horn—Again,for the solo cacher,a noisemaking device can alert others if you get into trouble. They can typically be heard from farther away than yelling can be.
Spare batteries—This is also essential for safety. You never want your GPSr to die while you’re out in the field.
Gloves—You never know what you’re going to encounter outdoors,and sharp rocks,stinging insects and unrecognizable liquids are a constant concern.
First aid kit—It’s easy to cut yourself outdoors,but even urban caches can be hidden under sharp edges. Make sure the kit also includes snake bite medication.
Hiking boots—Believe us,sneakers don’t cut it in the woods. Most veteran cachers also keep an extra pair of boots and socks in their car,just in case.
Warm/wet weather gear—These are especially important if you’re going to spend several hours outdoors.
Hat—It protects you from the sun and helps keep you warm on cold days.
Sunblock—You can get a nasty sunburn even on a cloudy day.
Mirror—A pocket or cosmetic mirror can be a great help when peering over railings or under benches.
Tweezers—The first time you smack a log book in a bison tube against your hand,you’ll understand why a 97-cent pair of tweezers can come in handy.
Flashlights and/or head lamps—Even on a bright day,your search may involve looking in dark rock outcroppings or hollow tree stumps.
Bug repellent—If caching in warm months or in the evening,you’ll be glad you brought this.
Water—Long hikes can dangerously dehydrate you. Plus,if you’re injured and need to wait for assistance,you don’t want to go thirsty.
Walking stick—Useful for long hikes over unsteady ground. Candy Lind (Moosiegirl) uses an old ski pole
Power transformer—If want to use PC-based software like Geocaching Swiss Army Knife to help you,invest in a transformer that lets you plug your laptop into a car’s cigarette lighter.
Snacks—Power bars and granola are nourishing and portable.
Pen— Small caches rarely have them.
Camera— Just remember that the vaunted megapixel rating is far less important than the quality of the lens.
Knife—You’ll sometimes have to cut away vines or undergrowth to reach a cache or use the knife blade to pry open a sticky lid.
ROT-13 decoder—ROT-13 is the simple letter-substitution cipher that Geocaching.com uses to encode hints. Carry a piece of paper with the substitutions written on it.
Trash bags—Make it a point to pick up a few items of refuse and leave the area cleaner than when you arrived.
Plastic bags—Electronics don’t take kindly to the rain,and if you get stuck in a downpour you’ll want to stash your cell phone, GPSr and any other delicate goodies in a plastic bag.
Cache repair kit—This should include a few logbooks,Ziploc baggies and pens. A small towel or some napkins can also help dry off the items in a cache that have gotten wet.